Cruise has launched a paid robotaxi service in Houston, Texas
Cruise has launched a paid robotaxi service in Houston, Texas

California DMV investigates Cruise Robotaxi’s collision with fire truck

What To Know

  • As the investigation unfolds, Cruise has been asked to limit the operation of its driverless cars to 50 during the daytime and 150 at night.
  • The autonomous vehicle struggled to predict the path of the fire truck because it maneuvered into the oncoming lane to bypass a red light.
  • Although the Cruise AV recognized the collision risk and applied the brakes to reduce speed, the specific conditions made it impossible to completely avoid the accident.
  • Interestingly, the DMV’s request coincides with a recent decision by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to permit Cruise and Waymo to charge fares for fully driverless rides throughout the day in San Francisco.

Cruise, the autonomous vehicle company, will be temporarily reducing the number of its self-driving cars in San Francisco due to ongoing investigations into recent incidents that have raised concerns. Reports from The New York Times and TechCrunch reveal that the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has instructed Cruise to cut its fleet in half.

This request follows an incident where one of Cruise’s self-driving taxis collided with a fire truck at an intersection. The fire truck was responding to an emergency with its sirens and red lights activated, while the robotaxi carried passengers who sustained non-life-threatening injuries. In a less controversial event a few days earlier, a Cruise vehicle became stuck in wet concrete.

The DMV’s main focus is ensuring the safety of both autonomous vehicles and the general public sharing the roads with them. The agency emphasized its authority to suspend or revoke testing and deployment permits if a company’s vehicles pose a threat to public safety.

As the investigation unfolds, Cruise has been asked to limit the operation of its driverless cars to 50 during the daytime and 150 at night.

Cruise’s General Manager for San Francisco, Greg Dietrerich, offered an explanation of the collision on the company’s website. According to him, the robotaxi detected the emergency vehicle and its sirens as they entered its field of view. However, it faced difficulty in spotting vehicles approaching from around corners until they were very close to the intersection.

The autonomous vehicle struggled to predict the path of the fire truck because it maneuvered into the oncoming lane to bypass a red light. Although the Cruise AV recognized the collision risk and applied the brakes to reduce speed, the specific conditions made it impossible to completely avoid the accident.

Interestingly, the DMV’s request coincides with a recent decision by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to permit Cruise and Waymo to charge fares for fully driverless rides throughout the day in San Francisco.

Previously, these companies were only allowed to offer fare-based rides without a safety driver onboard between 10PM and 6AM, in specific city areas. However, one CPUC commissioner dissented, asserting that the commission lacked adequate information to accurately assess the impact of autonomous vehicles on first responders.

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